NHL Trade Deadline: Golden Knights trade Cody Eakin to Jets

An era has ended.

The Vegas Golden Knights have traded center Cody Eakin to the Winnipeg Jets.

TSN’s Darren Dreger was first to report on the move.

The Jets are sending a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft that could turn into a third if Eakin, an unrestricted free agent, re-signs with his hometown Jets this offseason, or if the Jets make the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season, per Dreger.

The Jets currently hold the first wild card spot in the Western Conference.

Expectations were high on Eakin coming into this season. After a career-high 41 points and a career-best 22 goals in 2019, Eakin struggled in 2020 with only 10 points (four goals, six assists) in 41 games.

Eakin was in the final year of a four-year, $15.4 million contract (average annual value of $3.85 million) that was carried over when Vegas selected him from the Dallas Stars in the NHL Expansion Draft in June 2017. Despite that career year (that ended in a thud by his five-minute major penalty in Game 7 at San Jose), the Golden Knights retained Eakin for the hope that his production would replicate this season.

Vegas instead moved on from Erik Haula, Colin Miller and Nikita Gusev to clear cap space and obtain draft picks.

Months later, the Golden Knights somehow moved on from the albatross that was Eakin’s contract and obtained a draft pick without giving anything in return.

Not a bad week for general manager Kelly McCrimmon: trades two second-rounders for point-per-game defenseman Alec Martinez, and got away from Eakin’s deal without giving anything up.

The Golden Knights travel to Winnipeg twice in March: the 6th and 29th. Revenge game, thy will be done.

As it pertains to the Golden Knights’ cap situation heading into Monday’s noon trade deadline, space has been made. Vegas clears that $3.85 million off the books and had $2.525 million in cap space, per CapFriendly, prior to moving Eakin. And with Vegas not retaining salary, they just freed up a solid amount of cap space — $6.375 million, per CF. That factors forward Alex Tuch being on long-term injured reserve. Even when he returns to the lineup, Vegas still has some wiggle room to work with between now and Monday.

But for the immediate term, the Golden Knights have 11 active forwards on the roster and no call-ups have been made at time of publishing. Nicolas Roy appears to have played his way to a spot on the roster for the final 20 games, but with Cody Glass injured, one of Valentin Zykov or Brandon Pirri may be the one called up for Saturday’s game against the Florida Panthers.